Buffalodians

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While fans of wild stage costumes may harbor hopes that the Buffalodians would be a group of musicians dressed as bison, in reality this was a '20s vocal harmony group mostly known for their association…
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While fans of wild stage costumes may harbor hopes that the Buffalodians would be a group of musicians dressed as bison, in reality this was a '20s vocal harmony group mostly known for their association with the young pianist Harold Arlen, later to become one of America's greatest songwriters. He was just plain Hymie Arluck when recruited by Buffalodians' leader Arnold Johnson. Although Arlen had already made a name for himself around the Buffallo, NY, area as a pianist, composer, and arranger, it was Johnson's group that got him out of town and to the music business mecca of New York City, where Arlen eventually left performing behind for a career as a songwriter.

It was the severe winter of 1925 when this group left the city it was named after and headed on tour, stopping in cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh before finally hitting New York City for shows at the Palace Theater and Gallagher's Monte Carlo. The latter venue was a particularly popular 52nd Street nightspot. The group began recording almost immediately for the Columbia Vita-Tone imprint, as well as the Banner label. There were also many recordings under other names for other labels, a common practice in an era when chain stores negotiated exclusive distribution arrangements for particular records. Thus, if another store wanted to stock the same song, the only possibility was to get another band to record it, even if it was actually the same band enacting a masquerade. Thus, the Buffalodians became McLaughlin's Melodians for the Pathe Actuelle and Perfect labels, and this was just the beginning. The song "How Many Times?" wound up being released by the group under a total of 18 different names, certainly an answer to a musical question if there ever was one: the Yankee Six, the Yankee Ten, the Merry Makers, the Beach Six, Six Black Dominoes, Jimmy Johnson's Rebels, Master Melody Makers, Lou Connor's Dance Orchestra, Yankee Ten Dance Orchestra, the Savana Serenaders, the Carolinians, and last and most unbelievable, Londynskiej Piccadilli-Jazz -- these were all actually fake names for the Buffalodians. The group broke up in New York City in the late '20s, perhaps a result of over-work, an identity crisis, or both.